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Supreme Court Looks Set to Defend Gun Rights

March 19, 2008 03:17 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
For the first time in 70 years, the Supreme Court is deciding on the scope of the Second Amendment in District of Columbia v. Heller.

30-Second Summary

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Dick Heller, a federal guard in Washington, D.C., joined other plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the district when he was denied home-use registration for the handgun he used on the job.

His case has now reached the Supreme Court, which will soon rule on whether the Constitution grants the right to bear arms to individuals or only to state-affiliated militias.

The district has taken the position that only militias charged with defense of the state are guaranteed the right to possess guns under the Second Amendment. A D.C. federal court sided with Washington. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision, marking “the first time in the Nation's history that an appellate court has invoked the Second Amendment to strike down any gun-control law.”

Reports from the end of the first day of hearings show that a majority of justices appear to favor Heller. Justice Anthony Kennedy, often the swing voter in court rulings, brought up concerns that a total handgun ban could jeopardize the safety of “wilderness” homeowners.

Blog SCOTUS argues that the amendment’s author, James Madison, intended the law only to apply to national defense. The amendment as it stands today is considerably shorter than Madison’s first draft. In contrast, the Cato Institute’s Robert Levy, who is defending Heller as a counsel, said that the amendment safeguards the right of the individual and that “banning handguns outright is unconstitutional.”

Headline Link: ‘Conservative Justices Question D.C. Handgun Ban’

Background: District of Columbia v. Heller

Reactions: The District of Columbia speaks out

Opinion & Analysis: Second Amendment decision lies in the semantics

Reference: The Bill of Rights, the Supreme Court and District of Columbia v. Heller

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